Hooray for Homemade!

I am feeling increasingly encouraged to end my relationship with the garbage and recycling men. (I mean that in the best way.) We are sending far too much down the pipe in the form of bottles, jars, bags, and packaging, even for our almost-homemade existence. It is the vinegar bottles. The beer bottles. The bulk bags from the coop. The occasional box of crackers. While we don't buy shampoo or conditioner anymore (we use our LuSa soap and an apple cider vinegar rinse) and we make our own toothpaste and deodorant, we still generate unnecessary waste.

So this weekend I put two new projects into motion to reduce our footprint: cloth bulk bags and homemade vinegar. (Next week we'll revisit our homebrewing past and put an end to the majority of what remains in our recycling bin.)


Cloth bulk bags have been on my to-do list for ages. I often bike to the coop but not for my big weekly shopping. For that trip I haul our glass pantry jars to the coop to refill so I drive. Really it's a ridiculous trade off. One green choice for another? I'd rather bike and use recyclable containers that I have the strength to haul home in the bike trailer.

I sewed the bag above out of a pair of thin cotton thrifted capris and a scrap of Amy Butler fabric. I attached a hair binder towards the top as a closure and a grosgrain ribbon towards the bottom for writing bulk bin numbers. The ribbon is easy to find (even on a half-full bag) and erases well so the next bulk number can be added when you return to the coop for a new item.

I've only made the one so far, but I'm prioritizing a few more (large and small) before next week's shopping trip.



The second quick, simple project was vinegar. (The recipes come from Wild Fermentation,
by Sandor Katz – a book that you should go and get your hands on right
now if you don't already have a copy. Amazing stuff in there.) I have two batches in the works: Pineapple and apple. All told I think I spent more time chopping the pineapple for the kids to eat than I did prepping the vinegar.

Pineapple vinegar was a good excuse to indulge my kids in a pineapple (a source of weekly exotic produce begging). It is simply a fermented blend of fruit peels, water, and fresh local raw honey (thanks, Heather!). I'll report back in about a month with how it tastes.



21 thoughts on “Hooray for Homemade!

  1. denise says:

    Oh, great idea! We are pretty much the same. I have made our own vinegar, which I like a LOT … and, this month I am making kombucha vinegar. It is actually about ready to bottle. Lots of vitamins and good bacteria, and can be used in place of most vinegar (although I probably won’t use it for the cleaning supplies we make). I haven’t tried the pineapple vinegar. I have only made apple cider vinegar. Can’t wait to hear how it turned out. 🙂

  2. Danielle says:

    Oh homebrewing! Can’t wait for you to revisit that! We brew too, and it sure does feel good to refill those bottles over and over and over…

  3. Denise says:

    You made them! Fabulous – LOVE the ribbon idea. What are your thoughts on bags for flour and other finer elements – do you think the french seams might be worth the trouble?

  4. radha says:

    wondering about the bulk bags for flour. Would you need to use a finely woven fabric so no flour escapes??
    LOVE this!!!

  5. sarah says:

    love the bag!
    if you have a chance sometime, could you share your homemade deodorant ideas? i am super dissatisfied with anything I’ve bought and would love to hear what you do!

  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    I didnt fiddle with french seams. Lulu and I did a test and filled it with flour. Then we smacked it around and only the tiniest bit of flour puffed out. Negligible really.
    And it was coming through the weave not the seams.


  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hey mama,
    Yes, we chose a finer/tighter weave for these. Lupine and I filled one and then shook/smacked it around a little and the teeniest bit of flour dust puffed out. Barely any. Less than the mess I make when I empty a plastic bag into my bin! xo Rachel

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    I can definitely share my deodorant recipe some time. Until then there is a great one on Angry Chickens blog from a year or more ago. We made it once and it was great!

  9. MaeKellan says:

    Im off to buy my bulk flours today, what a great idea, my glass jars are just to heavy to cart. wish I had some today though, oh well ill put the fabric bags on my list of things to do.

  10. Casey says:

    What an awesome idea! We typically buy our flour by the 50# bag, but other bulk purchases would be great in these bags… And I’m excited to see more about your homebrewing. We save all our bottles for my father-in-law who home brews — we just simply don’t have the (childproof) space right now! Excited to do it someday, though!

  11. Kristen- Marinade Handmade says:

    So inspiring! Thank you for sharing. My honey and I homebrew but to switch entirely to our own homebrew all the time would be tough for us at first…

    I’ve also been meaning to make cloth produce bags for along time. Thanks for reminding me that I should get out the sewing machine and use up some of that scrap fabric I have lying around!

    This may seem random but anyone have advice on doggie waste pick-up? We haven’t found a good alternative to plastic baggies for that yet…

  12. Rachel Wolf says:

    We havent brewed in so long. Im ready to jump back in! As for dogs, weve gone two routes: before our kids were born we made a dog poop compost in our yard (a board over a hole in the ground, essentially, tucked away behind our garage). For walks we use biodegradable bags that we buy at the coop. They are corn based. Ideally theyd go into a similar poop-compost, layered with some straw or coffee chaff to speed decomposition.


  13. Danielle says:

    We haven’t switched entirely to our homebrew. So many good local micros out there. 🙂 We still do bottles (sterilize in the oven) and I always love having the beer stash all bottled up to take and share when we visit.

    Brewing doesn take too much space. We live in a small apartment. Our beer lives in our entry closet. We brewed in Japan too. Our place there was only 400 square feet!

  14. Kristen- Marinade Handmade says:

    Thanks Rachel!
    Another question, what do you do with the Dog Poop Compost once it’s broken down? I thought this stuff wasn’t safe to use in the food garden? Can it be used on flower beds? I’ve always been a little reluctant to try this because of the issue of what to use it for…

    Good luck with the homebrew, we have so much fun with it. We are actually serving all homebrew at our wedding in September! So fun!

  15. Rachel Wolf says:

    Oh! We wanted to serve homebrew at our wedding but somehow didnt. Long story. Some day Pete and I will bet married again (to each other) and well have homebrew!

    I just left the compost where it was. Composted and returned to the earth. Done. I think it would be fine on a flower bed though.

    ~ Rachel

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